Everyone will have had a different experience of this time away from campus and so will be looking at a return from many different perspectives. Some will be ecstatic to return while others may feel some reluctance to leave the peace and quiet of home. It is important to respect your own and your colleagues' thoughts and feelings about this and to continue the kindness and community spirit that we have shown towards each other over the past months.
On this page we will discuss a few strategies that you can consider to help you stay well during your transition back to campus. Click on the topics below for further information and relevant resources:
- Consider getting a flu shot
- Stay informed
- Set your morning alarm
- Start "commuting"
- Make a clear plan for the week of your return to campus
- Set aside some extra self-care and rest time
- Notice your emotions
- Practice gratitude
- Consider downloading the COVIDSafe App
- Reach out if you need support.
For more wellbeing strategies visit 'Strategies for Wellbeing at Home' - majority of which apply regardless of whether you return to campus, work from home, or do a combination of both.
Consider getting a flu shot
We know that the combination of flu and COVID-19 results in particularly severe illness - so, if you haven't already done so, consider a flu shot this year (the University is providing free flu shots for staff and students). While cold and flu numbers are at very low levels, in part due to measures to prevent spread of COVID-19, as our communities return to work, school and play, the risk of exposure to the usual round of colds and flu also returns. For vulnerable people it is also worth considering that if you have been particularly worried or fatigued during this time, that can have an impact on our immune system and so we may be a little more susceptible to the flu this year than at other times. If you have concerns, please talk to your treating healthcare provider about what is best for you.
As we gradually return to campus and a new normal there will be regular updates from a number of sources as to how we're doing and what the next stage will be. It is, of course, important that you keep informed with the latest news about on campus activities and general community advice, however, it is also important not to become overwhelmed by constant news or by time taken to source reliable information. Start now to have a short list of sources that you trust to provide you with up to date information, some examples are in the resources box for you to consider. And allocate the times each day that you will spend seeking and reviewing the news. For example, you may spend 15 minutes each morning when you first log in reviewing updates from your chosen sources and 15 minutes at the end of the day doing the same. By scheduling these times in and giving yourself permission *not* to focus on the news at other times, you can feel confident that you are up to date with necessary information, without wasting time, focus or energy through frequent checking.
Set your morning alarm
During this period of working from home, many of us will have changed our daily routine somewhat to accommodate our situation. As we look to a return to campus, it is never too early to start adjusting your body clock and daily routine to mirror what you will need to do to be at campus for your usual start time. Start waking up a little closer to your usual wake time and then gradually adjust that to match the time you will need to get up when you're going to campus. If you're not doing this already, start going through your usual morning routine of waking, exercising, showering and dressing with a view to being ready for work at your usual commute time. Much like when returning from holiday, if your "body clock" is altered, a sudden change can be very demanding for the body and mind so use this time to gradually resume your usual daily wake/sleep cycle.
As well as being an important addition to your daily routine to get your mind and body back to their usual daily rhythms, adding a commute, by leaving your house at the start and end of each work/study day helps us to readjust to the demands of our usual "people filled" lives. We know from studies on more extreme isolation (space travel, Antarctic and ocean expeditions) that returning to community activities after a long period of being on your own can be overwhelming and sometimes frightening, even for the most dedicated extroverts amongst us. Going for a short walk into our community spaces, (through a park or around the block) where you can see other people and start to adjust to the sounds and sights of regular human activity can help to ease that sense of worry and make a return to a community space, like a workplace, less overwhelming. This then allows you to enjoy the return to the camaraderie of your teams, classes and colleagues.
Make a clear plan for the week of your return to campus
On our return to campus we may find that there "a million things to do" or, as we ease back into it, our first week might be a bit slower than usual. Either way, having a plan for the week will help you feel in control of your days and ensure that you get through the essential tasks for that first day back. Don't expect to catch up on weeks of activity in your first week back. Take the time to prioritise your activities on campus and plan a realistic and achievable approach for your work or study goals.
Some things to include on your plan for your first week back on campus might be:
Taking a few minutes to set up or check your workstation, making sure that your chair and desk are adjusted to suit you and that you have all your necessary equipment in place. As many people were able to take some items home, take a moment to ensure that they are back in place and adjusted correctly for your workspace.
Plan a lunchtime walk with a colleague.
Because coming back to campus is a cause for celebration, plan a treat for yourself, and if it's a big week back you have something nice to look forward to.
And because it's a big change and we will probably feel a bit weary in those first days - plan some longer lunch breaks and plan to stick to your work hours or a minimal study schedule - this is not the week for clocking overtime!
Plan some extra self-care and rest time
Like returning from a big and busy holiday, be prepared to feel a bit tired in your first week back and don't overschedule yourself on campus or at home. Think about what things you find energising and "re-charging" when you're a bit tired and be very protective of your time for these during these first weeks. This may mean *not* scheduling a dinner party or evening out but prioritising your time for sleep and for restful activities that you find restorative.
Notice your emotions
Times of change, even much anticipated and positive change can trigger different emotions for everyone. Be curious and kind as you observe your own emotions during this transition back to campus and give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you are feeling. You might feel very calm and peaceful where you expected to feel worried, or vice versa. It's a been a big year so far, so many people will be feeling emotions they may be less familiar and comfortable dealing with. As for yourself, be kind to others' experiences, understand that we're all going through a period of adjustment and access support if you need to.
Be deliberate in noticing the good and beautiful and taking the time to be thankful. A daily practice of gratitude has many health benefits and helps you to stay focussed and to meet any challenges with optimism and persistence. A gratitude practice doesn't have to be a time consuming or formal activity, it may be just deliberately noticing the beautiful autumn colours during your lunchtime walk and being grateful that you got to see that moment. But in our community, we have a lot to be grateful for at this time and it's important, amongst all the other news, to notice that.
You can read more about gratitude on our mental wellbeing page.
Consider downloading the COVID Safe App
The COVID Safe App is an important tool we can use to rapidly identify and contain any future outbreaks of the disease. Downloading the App is entirely voluntary. More information on the App can be found on the Federal Health Website.
Reach out if you need support
Everyone will respond differently to this transition back to campus, and your response may not be what you expect it to be. If you find yourself in any difficulty, you will not be alone with that, take a moment to identify your own support networks and how you can connect with them, but other support services are available and ready to assist you through this time. For information on University support services for staff and students visit Support Services.